Home » Toyota Teams Up With Startup ‘Electreon’ To Develop Roads That Charge EVs While Driving

Toyota Teams Up With Startup ‘Electreon’ To Develop Roads That Charge EVs While Driving

Wireless Ev Charging Topshot
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Charging an EV on a road trip can be a hassle, and can require stops at sometimes-sketchy public charging stations. But what if you could avoid stopping altogether? Toyota and its Denso tech division is teaming up with Israeli charging startup Electreon to develop a receiver to charge electrified passenger cars wirelessly using coils underneath roadways. In theory, this receiver should be developed both as an OEM part and an aftermarket retrofit, and could be tested as part of a pilot project in the U.S., Japan, or Europe. It’s a novel idea on the surface, charging up cars as they drive along to ease range anxiety, and it’s not complete vaporware. Electreon was able to successfully demonstrate this technology using a Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid and a specially-made road.

Deploying Electreon S Electric Road Technology In Tel Aviv Scaled

In an ideal world, wireless charging embedded in roadways could help plug-in hybrids and short-range EVs run on their tiny little battery packs for extended highway journeys, reducing travel time for short-range EVs (which require less mining of precious earth metals) and carbon emissions for plug-in hybrids. Theoretically, widespread use of inductive roadways should make entry-level EVs cheaper and more viable as battery packs could shrink without huge effect on usability, which would significantly advance the quest for widespread EV adoption. Green vehicles are all well and good, but if the average consumer can’t afford them, then they’ll take a while to become ubiquitous.

The thing is, wireless charging from the road while in motion has some notable downsides. While high-current conductive charging isn’t perfectly efficient, inductive charging has greater efficiency concerns. For an example of inductive charging that most people are used to, let’s consider Apple’s MagSafe wireless charging, a huge step up in power from what we’re used to seeing from Qi. Although MagSafe can pump out up to 15 watts of power, it requires a 20-watt power adapter to do so. Plug your recent iPhone directly into the same 20-watt power adapter using a USB-C to Lightning connector, and you’re looking at around 20 watts of power. That’s roughly a 25 percent loss when wirelessly charging your iPhone.

Etruck Powered By Electreon Wirelessly Charging Tech Overview

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Granted, wireless EV charging has been touted as significantly more efficient than wireless phone charging. Electreon touts efficiency of greater than 91 percent with its inductive roads. The trouble is, DC fast charging can be even more efficient, at or above 95 percent efficiency. While four percent doesn’t sound huge, scale that up to the power demands of dozens of EVs on a given stretch of road, and you’re looking at a significant amount of wasted power. In addition, reductions in efficiency mean costs could be a concern. Electreon hasn’t published billing rates, but instead touts hypothetical savings that include a variety of factors such as reducing battery capacity requirements. While it’s plausible that municipal fleet vehicles running predetermined routes almost exclusively on charging roadways could have smaller battery packs than they would otherwise need, private automobiles are a whole different can of worms in the medium term due to the sheer expense of rolling out inductive roadways, especially to ancillary roads. These magic charging roads won’t appear everywhere overnight, so EV range will still be a concern for the foreseeable future.

In addition, Electreon claims that the inductive coils under the roadway may only have a minimum lifespan of ten years with normal maintenance, and standardized vehicle-to-roadway communication is necessary for charging and billing purposes. Then there’s the data aspect of it all. While we already hand over our personal location data to companies such as Google and Apple, having one infrastructure company gain information on just about everywhere every wireless charging-enabled EV goes should give you pause for thought.

Laying The Wireless Road In Karlsruhe Germany

While wireless electric vehicle charging while on the move sounds great at surface-level, it has some significant hurdles to overcome. From costs to losses to data, all the concerns add up to technology that sounds neat but could be a very expensive boondoggle. For now, let’s put a pin in this and check back in a few years. While I’d love for my concerns to be proven wrong, I have a feeling that inductive roads will be much, much harder to implement en masse than regular DC fast charging stations.

(Photo credits: Electreon)

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jadielyn
jadielyn
2 months ago

Put them at intersections. At least you can charge at the red lights! (also parking lots)

JDE
JDE
2 months ago

I can’t say if it would be any better really to have basically a third rail setup instead, but I would feel way more comfortable with self driving if on the long lonely stretches between metropolis points, the car was somehow connected to something to follow while charging.

Eva
Eva
2 months ago

This is the worst idea the startup sector has had vis-à-vis roads since that solar tile roadway that was supposed to change the world. Others have laid out the cons so I won’t belabor the point but do these people ever think more than one step ahead?

frodaddi
frodaddi
2 months ago

Inductive EV charging would be really convenient to have at home. Just park the EV in the garage, charges up while it’s there, no need to plug in. And I’d think you could implement this in a pad kind of thing that lays on the floor without having to be imbedded in the floor?

trekra
trekra
2 months ago

So we will tear up all of the major highways in the nation (necessary to make it practical and not pick winners/losers).

That will come with a significant impact to the environment as I bet all of those trucks, dozers and graders won’t run on sunlight.

We will lay in hyper expensive technology (compared to normal highway construction) that will require Clark Griswold like maintenance crews to go out and look for the “burnt out bulb” in the string every time a road heaves, causing upset drivers who get stranded if their cars aren’t charging asthrough.

And what does the heat output look like?! Sure, snow and ice free roads are nice if that’s a bi product, but I’m pretty sure environmentalists would be up in arms if our highway system started adding even more heat to our world to charge while driving.

I love to think about “what ifs”, but as was said above, I think the better application of this technology would be in parking lots and drive throughs, parking ramps and more. Businesses may choose to invest in it with private funds as a perk for their employees and customers, rather than 100% state and federal funding, or private toll roads.

Thevenin
Thevenin
2 months ago

91% charging efficiency with an inductive pad is possible in a lab, but wildly optimistic in a real world application. Is it raining? Is there road salt? Is the road sagging, cracked, or potholed? Does the car have more than a few inches of ground clearance? Is the car more than an inch off-center? Is the position detector out of calibration due to heat and cold?

I’d be very impressed if Electreon roads got more than 70% efficiency after the abuses of nature.

LindaNichols
LindaNichols
2 months ago

I’m making over $13k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

That is what I do… https://c2d.in/joblive76

__Stu L Tissimus
__Stu L Tissimus
2 months ago

I don’t see this ever taking off at a grand scale, but I’m interested by the idea of building out trolley bus routes with some of these. Likely a lot simpler to hook up and upkeep than overhead wires.

DWSmith
DWSmith
2 months ago

I don’t see anything “simpler to hook up and upkeep than overhead wires”. I can visually look up and see the wiring with an overhead system. I wouldn’t have to trench and install a dubious (to me at least) charging system that would take a closing of the line to dig up the problem (if they know exactly where the problem is) repairing and repaving the site of the problem.
And given the quality of repaving I see where I live I’m sure there would be a lovely pot hole sized stretch of the road (or track) that would have standing passengers banging their heads on the ceiling of the trolley.

Offyatindy
Offyatindy
2 months ago

This is a thoroughly brilliant idea and prospective technology.

With inductive power, there is no need to carry around an extra thousand pounds of battery. What you lose in efficiency for the power transfer, you gain in vehicle efficiency.

Further, why litter the country with slow fueling/power stations? Why do you need to take hours to charge your vehicle? Why dig up all those rare earth and other minerals when you don’t need as much? You won’t have these concerns with inductive charging.

Also, “adding lightness” to the car by removing batteries increases fuel (electron) efficiency or improves acceleration, or both. Not to mention, lightness makes a vehicle handle better.

And inductive power could be integrated with self-driving vehicle technology. I love driving as much as the next person, but would rather take a nap when travelling on the freeway. I try not to at present, but with the road powering my vehicle and keeping me in my lane, why not?

Finally, updating our roadways with inductive roadways will supercharge our economy in the same way that the Interstate highways did in the 50s, microchips in the 70s and the Internet from the 90s on – until the next big thing.

HammerheadFistpunch
HammerheadFistpunch
2 months ago

Man I hate these pie in the sky future roads projects. We can’t afford our cheap-ass roads! What makes people think that a private firm will convince us to pay for vastly more expensive roads that don’t contribute to road longevity? Remember solar smart roads?

Offyatindy
Offyatindy
2 months ago

Private firms will be over the moon to produce inductive power roadways. The job of the CEO is to maximize profit. Paving companies won’t just be slopping rebar and asphalt on a pathway and hoping to get the next contract to patch it 10 years in the future. They will be building built in fueling systems that continue to generate income even as the roadways depreciate/wear away. It’s more likely they will have ongoing contracts to maintain the roads as it is in their best interest to deliver a seamless driving/fueling service.
Consumers will also pay less for fuel/electricity because lighter vehicles (fewer batteries) are more efficient.

HammerheadFistpunch
HammerheadFistpunch
2 months ago
Reply to  Offyatindy

But private firms don’t PAY for roads. They sell them to public works. You know… The ones with billions in backlog road and bridge maintenance?

nemebean
nemebean
2 months ago

“These magic charging roads won’t appear everywhere overnight, so EV range will still be a concern for the foreseeable future.”

Sure, but if you could roll these out to, say, the interstate system, you could do a lot of driving on a 100 mile EV because you’d _only_ need the battery to support side trips off the main road. You don’t need these everywhere, just enough places that you can get between charging roads on a single charge. Obviously this doesn’t help if you’re into backroads-only roadtrips, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fundamentally bad idea.

That said, while it might not be so bad in theory, everyone else has pointed out the practical issues with this. Toyota sure loves their great-in-theory-but-impractical-in-reality tech, don’t they?

GranulatedMiscarriage
GranulatedMiscarriage
2 months ago
Reply to  nemebean

It seems more practical and less expensive to set up charging stations every 50 miles.

eddyboi
eddyboi
2 months ago

I don’t understand Toyota these days. Sure- they make reliable vehicles but…

A: They have a lot of VERY aged drivetrains. The Tacoma and 4Runner are super old and get crap fuel economy.

B: They seem hell-bent on hydrogen when its been proven over and over to be not nearly as efficient

C: And now whatever the hell this road charing thing is. I fail to see how this would work. We can’t even fill potholes in this country let alone pave it in electrical equipment.

redfoxiii
redfoxiii
2 months ago

Yet another step closer to life size slot cars.

Unclewolverine
Unclewolverine
2 months ago

Top Gear 3000 comes to life! Are they also working on strips that repair you damage too?

SquareTaillight2002
SquareTaillight2002
2 months ago

Forget putting a penny on a railroad track.
21st Century kids levitate their pennies on the highway.

Canucksalaryman
Canucksalaryman
2 months ago

How long until someone jail breaks their car to get free charging.

I assume that the V2C communications would give the charging circuit a rough idea of where you were and would turn on that specific segment of charger. I also assume that it would be long enough that other vehicles could gobble up some of your electrons for free.

BloggyMcBlogBlog
BloggyMcBlogBlog
2 months ago

My F Zero dreams are finally coming true!

Globebuilder
Globebuilder
2 months ago

My God this stupid, stupid idea rears its ugly head again. What makes more sense, concentrated power in a single charging spot or low-power, inefficient induction spread over thousands of miles. Take a good look at our roads, we can’t keep the concrete from cracking and the tarmac from potholing, let alone running EM power under every foot. This might make sense at bus stops to boost a waiting bus but is a waste of time and resources second only to the periodically resurfacing idea of paving our roads with solar panels (I’m looking at you Solar Roadways, ya dumb shmucks)
Stop it. Focus on charging infrastructure, better batteries and splitting water using solar and wind to supply electricity at night (wipes spittle from corner of mouth)

SquareTaillight2002
SquareTaillight2002
2 months ago
Reply to  Globebuilder

Toyota is full of really smart engineers and capable conservative managers. And they all love snake oil.

LTDScott
LTDScott
2 months ago
Reply to  Globebuilder

I know of a company working on exactly what you’re proposing for busses.

BaronUsurper
BaronUsurper
2 months ago
Reply to  Globebuilder

You didn’t say it right. It’s SOLAR FREAKIN ROADWAYS.

taargustaargus
taargustaargus
2 months ago

I like this idea, but only because it would make me feel like I’m playing F-Zero in real life.

Incorporate glowing LED strips in the pavement for the full effect, please.

Anoos
Anoos
2 months ago

I can completely imagine buying a 50-mile BEV because of these roads.

I can also imagine myself cursing my BEV because the charging roads are all malfunctioning and I have to work a charging stop into my evening commute every day.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
2 months ago

I can only see this viable for toll roads.

v10omous
v10omous
2 months ago

Lol at the idea of deploying anything like this in pothole/snowplow country. 10 years would be an absurdly optimistic estimate of lifespan.

On the other hand, if the less efficient charging melts snow and ice as a byproduct, it might be worth it regardless.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  v10omous

Even if it evaporated all snow before it even touched the road surface, states would still insist on dumping 22 tons of salt per mile, just for an extra “safety factor”

v10omous
v10omous
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

It’s raining all week here which should finally remove the last of the salt and allow fun cars back out next week.

Extremely annoying for sure.

eddyboi
eddyboi
2 months ago
Reply to  v10omous

And can you imagine what the salt would do when it inevitably got into the electronics?

Otto Madiq
Otto Madiq
2 months ago
Reply to  v10omous

Wireless EV charging is a lot more efficient than the wireless chargers most people are familiar with on their phones. About 93% efficient to be precise. I don’t see it melting any snow, sadly.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

I still say employ the same technology at charging stations and eliminate the cable compatibility problem. Also, a fast food drive-thru would be a good spot to catch a quick power bump.

Cheats
Cheats
2 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Just put them in parking lots everywhere. Apartment complexes, grocery stores, malls, movie theaters….

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